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This founder says memetech is the next big thing


Alex Taub, a longtime founder with multiple exits under his belt, believes it’s time to disrupt the meme industry.

“I have this big thesis that memetech is going to be the next big category,” Taub told TechCrunch. “Like, there’s healthtech, there’s proptech, there’s adtech, there’s fintech… I think memetech is about to have a big moment.”

Taub might sound like he’s spent a bit too much time in the trenches of the content mines. But he has a point. If you want to send your friend the perfect Spongebob meme, what are you supposed to do? Google “mr krabs confused meme”? Memes are a key component of our online communications – from boomers posting minions to gen alpha posting about toilets – and yet few companies have tried to do anything new.

To be clear, tech innovation isn’t always good or necessary. No one needs to own a smart refrigerator, or for that matter, a Humane AI pin. But there’s been almost no innovation in how we organize and share memes for more than a decade: On Tumblr in 2009, it was common practice to have a reaction gif folder on your computer desktop; now, the most organized among us have meme folders on our phones. It’s basically the same thing. Similarly, even though your iPhone can quickly catalog all of your pictures of a cat named Plover, iPhones don’t know who Mr. Krabs is, leaving a bit to be desired in terms of meme efficiency.

“If you think of what memetech really is right now, it’s essentially Giphy, but it got acquired by Facebook, and then got sort of shuttered off to Shutterstock. There’s some OG companies like Know Your Meme and Cheezburger, but those companies are actually media companies,” Taub said. “I ended up realizing there’s an opportunity here for meme management.”

Image Credits: Meme Depot

On Wednesday, Taub launched Meme Depot, which he aspires to build into a comprehensive archive of any meme imaginable.

“You have collections, which are like Subreddits, visually,” he explains. If you’re looking for a Kim Kardashian meme, for example, there would be a Kim Kardashian collection that you can navigate to. “And visually, they’re very easy to look through, like Pinterest.”

That’s all well and good, but companies need to make money. Here’s where Taub might lose people: the business model revolves around crypto.

“I’ve been in crypto in one way or another in the last 12 years, and I think it’s very misunderstood in terms of the speculation and the bad actors, but it’s also just a new way to reimagine the internet,” he said.

Inspired by Friend.tech, meme depot has a feature called meme party, which turns specific meme categories into communities. Using cryptocurrency, users can buy depot passes to join the meme party, which is basically just an ephemeral, cursor-based chat. But for people who don’t want anything to do with crypto, it’s not necessary to pay money or open a crypto wallet to engage with Meme Depot in any way. It allows early pass holders of a meme collection to earn a bit of money as more people join it.

Taub is well aware that this tactic could spark debate.

“There’s a lot of controversy about like, who is allowed to monetize memes? Is it the creator of the meme, is it the person in the meme?” he said. “If this takes off the way I think it will, we might add a new wrinkle to this, which is a good thing. You want people to talk about it.”

These same questions were raised during the NFT boom of 2021, when the subjects of viral memes like Scumbag Steve, Disaster Girl and Overly Attached Girlfriend sold their iconic images as NFTs. This was often the first time that these people earned any money for being the subject of viral memes – Disaster Girl, now in her twenties, earned the equivalent of $500,000 in ETH at the time, though that could have depreciated significantly depending on what she did with the cryptocurrency.

Image Credits: Meme Depot

Then there’s memes like Pepe the Frog, which evolved from an innocent cartoon to an alt right symbol, and back again to a Twitch emote and crypto meme. When an image is so divorced from its origin, it could belong moreso to the public than its original creator.

“People can monetize the community around the meme without monetizing the meme itself,” Taub said.

Taub is funding Meme Depot with money he made from selling past ventures like SocialRank, a social media analytics company. For some business-minded folk, the question may persist: why memes?

Taub’s answer is simple: “Memes are culture, and culture is entertainment.”

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